Murray Kinsella reports from Sydney
THE FINAL CONTEST of the three finally did for Peter O’Mahony, as the Ireland captain smashed down onto the ground again in an incident that saw Israel Folau yellow-carded.
Three times the Wallabies fullback chased Bernard Foley’s restarts, three times O’Mahony came back down to earth in wince-inducing fashion.
The second of the three has since led to a citing commissioner’s warning – essentially, a verdict that the challenge should have also resulted in a yellow card – and Folau will now face a disciplinary hearing as if he had been red-carded in Sydney on Saturday night.
The challenges, particularly the one that led to the yellow card, have been a deeply divisive issue since Saturday, with some arguing that CJ Stander’s one-man lift put O’Mahony in a dangerous position.
Others have stressed that the nature of the lift was not what brought O’Mahony back to the dirt in such an alarming manner, rather the contact with the Ireland captain by Folau up in the air.
This type of challenge, and the lifting of players in open play, is certainly something for World Rugby to consider when they next meet to discuss the laws.
The Wallabies felt hard done by on Saturday, with Michael Cheika’s men believing that the nature of Stander’s lift had left O’Mahony exposed.
“Being a player who’s often in the air, you want to protect players but I felt like last night with that one-man lift, they’re obviously putting their own player in danger there,” said Wallabies wing Dane Haylett-Petty.
“Any time there’s any sort of contact in the air, he fell pretty badly so I feel like, if anything, we should be getting rid of that.”
Stander, meanwhile, felt he could have done more to keep O’Mahony safe.
“It’s a tough one because I’m the one lifting him and I need to look after him,” said Stander.
“It’s just that Folau is unbelievable in the air, it’s one of those ones where you need to go back and look at it and he got a yellow card.
“It’s tough, Pete got injured because of it. It’s something we worked on during the week, we knew it was going to come. I could have probably protected him a bit better.”
It’s likely that Folau and the Wallabies will defend the fullback’s actions in the air when the disciplinary hearing takes place with judicial officer Shao Wang of Singapore and this may not be the last we hear of the issue.
Haylett-Petty is frustrated that a brilliant Test match was marred by another sanction for a challenge in the air.
“That’s a huge strength for us and they’re going to try to take that away from us but the fans want to see 15-on-15 and a good battle,” said Haylett-Petty.
“It was a great Test series so we don’t want to make any excuses, the Irish were really good. It could have gone either way at the end of the last two Tests.”
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